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US-Russia relations: Reaching the point of no return?

03-10-2018

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more ...

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more transactional relationship, a rift has opened up between him and the rest of the US political establishment, which insists that the differences between the two countries are too fundamental to be easily set aside. Growing hostility towards Russia has led to harsher rhetoric and increasingly draconian sanctions. Alongside these more recent developments, US-Russia relations have been complicated for many years by fundamental foreign policy differences. The US sees itself as a global leader and champion of liberal values. For its part, Russia resents what it perceives as US hegemony and unwarranted interference in other countries' internal affairs. Russia is far from being a military equal to the US. Nevertheless, Moscow's nuclear arsenal makes it a potentially formidable adversary. A series of arms-control agreements aims to contain the threat of an arms race or even conflict between the two sides. However, deteriorating relations are making such arrangements look increasingly precarious. Compared to political and security issues, economic ties play only a minor role in US-Russia relations. Bilateral trade and investment have suffered from tensions and are likely to remain limited, not least due to sanctions.

Places in Brussels of symbolic significance for Europe

31-10-2016

Although Brussels is often referred to as the de facto ‘capital of Europe’, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has argued that the city suffers from an ‘iconographic deficit’, because the way the space is organised, together with the architecture of EU buildings is insufficiently distinctive to be particularly memorable. In fact, there are quite a number of places of symbolic significance for Europe to be found in Brussels and which reflect three main themes: pre-EU culture involving European myths ...

Although Brussels is often referred to as the de facto ‘capital of Europe’, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has argued that the city suffers from an ‘iconographic deficit’, because the way the space is organised, together with the architecture of EU buildings is insufficiently distinctive to be particularly memorable. In fact, there are quite a number of places of symbolic significance for Europe to be found in Brussels and which reflect three main themes: pre-EU culture involving European myths and medieval imagery of Charlemagne; the EU founding fathers, notably Robert Schuman, Altiero Spinelli and Paul-Henri Spaak; and the Cold War and dissidence against authoritarian regimes. Over the past decade, a number of ambitious urban projects have been launched to raise the European profile of Brussels and give the European quarter more of the architectural distinctiveness it lacks. For example, a competition was launched in 2009 by the Belgian authorities and the European Commission for a complete transformation of the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – 40 years after Helsinki

05-11-2015

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki final act, signed in 1975. A turning point in the Cold War, the Helsinki process created a forum involving all the actors of European security: European states, the United States, Canada and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The formation of the Conference on the Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) came about during the Détente of 1962-1979. The CSCE transformed the zero-sum game of the Cold War into a positive-sum game between European ...

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki final act, signed in 1975. A turning point in the Cold War, the Helsinki process created a forum involving all the actors of European security: European states, the United States, Canada and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The formation of the Conference on the Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) came about during the Détente of 1962-1979. The CSCE transformed the zero-sum game of the Cold War into a positive-sum game between European states and became a forum for discussion between the two superpowers and European countries. The main outcome of the Helsinki process is less the Final Act itself than the original process of negotiations between all the participating states. After the fall of the USSR, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) became an organisation focusing mainly on soft security (elections, peace processes, and protection of minorities). However the instability of the security situation in Europe and its neighbourhood may invigorate the pertinence of what has been known as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since 1995. The OSCE set up Confidence and Security-building measures (CSBM) that are key to conflict resolution today in Europe (Ukraine, Transnistria and South Caucasus).

Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90

27-01-2015

Part of the new European Parliament History series, this study analyses the events that led to democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-90, from the perspective of the Parliament, as detailed in materials to be found in its Historical Archives. It traces Parliament's discussions and positions during this crucial period, including its debates on Post-Communism and on Eastern enlargement. The studies in the European Parliament History Series are primarily based on documents ...

Part of the new European Parliament History series, this study analyses the events that led to democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-90, from the perspective of the Parliament, as detailed in materials to be found in its Historical Archives. It traces Parliament's discussions and positions during this crucial period, including its debates on Post-Communism and on Eastern enlargement. The studies in the European Parliament History Series are primarily based on documents preserved in, and made available to the public by, the Historical Archives of the European Parliament.  

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